Month: October 2009

golden cherry tomatoes, tomatillos, lovage




I’ve recently discovered that there really is life beyond salsa for the lowly tomatillo.

The other day I found myself with some golden cherry tomatoes which really had to be made a part of a meal before it was too late.  I happened to check out the crisper drawer in the refrigerator at just about the same time.  Down at the bottom I found three tomatillos I had completely forgotten I had, having neglected to register them on my critical kitchen perishables list the day I had brought them home from Bill Maxwell’s stand at the Greenmarket several weeks earlier.

[Note to all shoppers:  I’m finding that Maxwell’s (Mondays at Union Square) can mean virtually one-stop shopping – and talking to good folks too.]

I was about to throw the tomatillos in the garbage, but I decided to check them out first.  I knew almost nothing about the vegetable, including how long they could be stored and where they should be stored.  I cut a thin slice and discovered perfect bliss.  It looked like jade and it tasted like candy.

I had been trying to come up with for something which would complement grilled swordfish with a Salmoriglio sauce and some braised red kale.  Maybe it was the thought of combining the two colors more than anything else that inspired the salad which I assembled from the tomatoes and the tomatillos, but it totally hit the mark.   By chance I had some fresh lovage, also picked up at Maxwell’s stand, although more recently, and as I’ll put lovage on just about anything, I hardly had to think for a second before I added the leafy herb to the mix.

Here’s the real deal:

Thinly slice some ripe tomatillos and cut some ripe golden cherry tomatoes in half, combine with a liberal amount of chopped lovage, some good olive oil, a bit of fresh lemon juice, salt and, ideally, pink peppercorns (I love pink peppercorns and watch for any opportuity where they might shine), although black or white pepper will do just fine.  Enjoy.

dinner, October 27, 2009

I’ve always been fond of skate, and it probably has little to do with the fact that I’m surprised to learn over and over again just how much the taste is unlike that of most any other fish.   But it does, and it is.  Prepared along the lines of an old Mark Bittman posting in the New York Times, tonight’s entree both looked and tasted very little like fish and more like very light whipped potatoes dribbled with a delicate but complex brown sauce (gravy).   Bittman writes that halibut steaks and fillets, or most any other firm, white-fleshed fish will respond to the same treatment, “but the substitution is not perfect”.

Tonight it was perfect;  the fish was very fresh, the other ingredients in its preparation just about the best possible.

The accompaniments were mostly a matter of what looked good in the market (Manhattan Fruit), and although they seem to me now an odd choice, they worked very well together.  I think we were dining somewhere in Savoy/Savoie/Savoia/Savoyen.

Have you ever noticed how a skate wing, when stretched to its limit, looks exactly like the wing of a bird?  This afternoon was a first for me.

  • locally-caught skate fillet (one wing, expertly separated from the cartilage by the fish seller at Lobster Place inside Chelsea Market) quickly sauteed in a pan and removed, with butter and [Linden] honey added to the pan first, swirled briefly until browned, followed by some very large Lipari capers (Buon Italia, also in Chelsea Market) swirled into the pan, the thickened sauce then poured over the fish and the pan returned to the range where a few drops of Chardonnay vinegar were added, swirled and also poured over the fish, which was then garnished with some chopped parsley and lovage;   baked pommes frites  (medium red new potatoes);   sauteed cavolo nero (black cabbage)
  • wine:  Sauvignon Blanc, a white Loire (Chavignol), Petit Bourgeois 2008 from Henri Bourgeois